One Year Ago Today…..

Today is our first day of school. I’m a bit more ready this year than last.  We are starting under much different circumstances than last year.  One year ago today Hurricane Irene came through our city and felled a 150 foot oak tree onto our cottage. It was quite a day. We were very blessed…none of us were hurt, and the cottage could be repaired. Nevertheless, it was very stressful. I shared this story last year about what I learned from

Irene and Billy Joe Bob……

August 27, 2011:

Well.  We made it through Hurricane Irene.  Our city looks like a war zone.  The damage is horrendous.  Had no idea.  The university here has shut down. {Universities usually don’t shut down–unless the chancellor can’t walk across the street from his house to his office.}

For us, personally:

a 150+ foot {I originally thought it was only 75!} oak tree fell onto our cottage

we lost numerous parts of our English cottage garden

various other damage throughout the yard and exterior

BUT, we are OK.  That’s what is most important.

We all worked like horses all day and into the evening trying to get things to where we could function and cleaned up.

{Best Boot Camp workout out there!  I was tired of my daily workout routine, anyway!}

BUT, before that……I sat in a corner of the dining room and cried.

And ate Pumpkin Cheesecake.

thought it helped.  Because, once I had finished it—I stood up, pulled my boot straps tied-together tie-dyed jumpsuit straps, with the big hole on my backside up……I was ready to get on with it. {At least I thought.}

Not long into our work….it appeared.

I was stressed.  I was worn out.  I was sad.  I was disappointed.

No one could do anything correctly.

I opened my mouth and acid spewed all over my family.

I cried again.

A bit later I confessed. I apologized. I hugged.

But I thought…..did I leave any scars?  Maybe if I had cried in the corner and chewed on God’s word and promises instead of Pumpkin Cheesecake–just maybe the acid would have been a bit more neutralized.

Flash forward many hours…..and Billy-Joe-Bob arrived to work on getting the tree off the house.

I’m not sure—but I think he had one tooth.

From the time he arrived acid spewed from his mouth in all directions.  In fact, acid spewed from his being—even when he didn’t even open his mouth.

He was the most angry/hateful/bitter-actng person I think I have ever been around.

He didn’t like me.

And, I didn’t really like him.

I offered to get him something to drink.  He cursed at me.

I offered to get him a cold rag when he knocked a hole in the top of his head.

He cursed at me.

I said ‘Thank you’.  He cursed at me.

As he worked—I watched and observed.

What in the world would make someone so full of acidic stench??

How does he live like that?

I kept observing…he already didn’t like me, so I flat out stared at times.  Intently.

I learned something from Billy-Joe-Bob yesterday.

I learned that I don’t want to be like that. But I was earlier in the day.

And I realized that a life filled with acid comes from running to Pumpkin Cheesecake, alcohol, tobacco, people, talents, gifts, shopping……. ANYTHING other than the God waiting to restore and fill us up with what we need to get through.

Yep.  I watched Billy-Joe-Bob. And I don’t want to be him.

{And I’m not just referring to the one tooth!?}

Next time I head for the corner of the dining room it won’t be with Pumpkin Cheesecake.

{I’ll save that for when I come out!}

Today….I’m very thankful for:


help with all our needs

my family—-with me


the new vast amount of sunshine coming into my garden

large holes in the ground….maybe for a pond?

a fresh start

a fresh outlook

a new day

Blessings to your Monday~


The {Perfect?} Easter Morning…..

I had a great plan….

I got up early on Easter morning

to cook my family some fun, homemade

blueberry pancakes in the shapes of Easter eggs, chicks, and bunnies.

The table was set….and ready for fun.

Everyone’s lovely new clothes were waiting to be donned.

It was going to be a great day.

I started cooking the pancakes….

and it just wasn’t working.

I had beheaded bunnies, chicks with no body, and

completely destroyed Easter eggs.

The eggs burned while I was trying to get the pancakes

working….I wondered if I could convince my family

that it was a new, cutting-edge dish….charcoal eggs???.

I was determined to have fun-shaped pancakes….

but we ended up with plain, round ones.

How I got blueberry batter

in my eyelashes, I’m not sure.

I forgot to cook the bacon.

{But the table still looked really pretty.}

We always get new outfits for Easter…..

we’ve done this since our children were small.

Not to impress anyone; but to be an outward expression

of what Easter stands for: Brand New Life.

Those lovely new duds were all hanging and ready.

My youngest daughter just started wearing mascara….

it’s a learned skill to handle, ya know.

And the make-up remover?

Well, it ended up all over her brand new dress.

And her nails that were chipped and looking

like a mechanic from fun in the yard?

Due to the pancakes…we didn’t get to re-paint them.

My other daughter’s new dress just wasn’t working

with the camisole that wouldn’t stay up….

I hoisted it up with twine and hair barrettes in the back.

She was freezing and put on leggings with her new

dress that had ketchup stains on the knee. ?????

{How does ketchup get on your knees?}

And then donned her winter wool coat.

I love the new nail polish I found this past week

and had painted my toes and fingernails with it.

It will look gorgeous with a tan…..

but with winter white skin?

Yeah, well, I looked like the crypt-keeper.

We’ve been rearranging closets and cleaning some areas

out around here…so somehow all the sheets and blankets

have ended up in my closet….on top of my shoes.  ???

I couldn’t find my shoes for church…you know, the ones that

were perfect with my new outfit.

It was at this point that my prayers turned to:

“Really, God? Really???!!”

We finally made it to the car and headed to church.

And I looked down at my ring.

My beautiful ring that Handsome had made for me by a local jeweler…

my engagement ring…

flanked by two wedding bands that he also designed and had made.

I had meant to clean it this past weekend.

No doubt it had blueberry batter in it!

It’s a very large amethyst….and so it gets all kinds

of dirt, etc. in it that makes it cloudy.

Still beautiful….but nothing like when it’s cleaned.

Sparkly, deep purple, can-see-the-facets clean.


So, here we were……

the girls and I looking like the crypt-keeper and her daughters

that had fallen off the apple cart.

{Somehow the guys managed to escape any fashion fiascos.}

Beheaded bunnies flung all over the kitchen…

looking like a crime scene.

A shoe explosion in the bedroom.

My lovely plans to bless my family

blown to bits!

But it was when I looked down in the car at my ring

that I heard a still small voice.

You know….during the time that I was  trying

to get my attitude straight before getting to church.

{So I could smile and say ‘Fine’. Because I was afraid

that someone was going to ask me how I was doing

and I was going to break down and yell something like


And then they would need to call the behavioral

health professionals for back-up.}

It was when I gazed at my ring that the still small

voice said…..

“Daune, you’ve had the perfect Easter morning.

This is why I died. You don’t need to be cleaned

up and sparkly to come to me… come just as

you are…wherever you are. No need to clean up first.”

We can bring our mismatched, rag-tag, chipped, cloudy, dirty,

barette-hoisted, bad attitude selves to the cross.

With all our failures and disappointments.

That’s what Easter morning is all about.

He will clean me up to where I sparkle and shine…

with the facets that he has placed within me

reflecting His love to my family and others.

So, that’s when I realized that I had had the

Perfect Easter Morning.

True story.

Blessings to you~

Easter Egg Trees…..

Do you have any Easter decorations that are traditions?

I grew up collecting special ornaments to add

to our Easter Egg tree each year.

Those ornaments have now been passed on to me

and we still have fun adding to them each year.

Many years ago we gathered branches from

the woods, put them in a terra cotta pot

with cement poured into it.

Then, we spray painted the whole shebang white.

The weight of the cement anchors the tree

and keeps it from falling over once you put all

the decorations on it.

Some of my favorite decorations were brought to

me from Holland each year…from a close friend.

They are my favorites.

Hand-painted wooden eggs, bunnies, etc.

Some other fun Easter decorations that I love

are these vintage paper mache eggs.

I came across several of them this  year

and I think I am going to fill them with

fun treats and give them to my lovely middle

school girls’ Bible study next week.

I think will like them!

A new addition to our decorations this year

is this little guy….I saw him in Pottery Barn a few

weeks ago…and giggled so much I just knew I had

to have him! A knit bunny wine bottle topper!

We don’t drink wine…but we do have lots

of sparkling cider, so

there he sits.  I giggle every time I pass by.

Isn’t it a hoot?

Do you decorate for Easter or have any special

Easter traditions that you would like to pass along?

Hope your week is off to a great start~

Today I am thankful for:

~ bunny toppers that make me giggle

~ a fun few days working in the yard with Handsome

~ birdsong in the morning

~ thunderstorms at night

~ grace

Sharing with:  Jennifer Rizzo

Monday Randomness…..

We spent the weekend cleaning out our shed in the  yard.

We will need a U-haul to get all the clean out to the

landfill.  Oh dear.

So, I’m fried….and feeling very random today. ha!

If you dare….step into my randomness……

I’ve admired the French baking racks and stands at

Panera for a very long time.

I asked the manager where they purchased them

and that I would love to find them.

A few weeks later {last week}

when I was in there…the manager

walked up to me and handed me this:

yep….one of the French baking racks/stands.

He said they were changing how they display and would

be cleaning them out and I could have it! Woohoo!

I’m excited.

Last week at Chik-Fil-A

I found this lovely heart-shaped pickled

in my sandwich. A little Godwink, I think. 😉

We made some fun Easter eggs last week…

and later this week I’m going to share how we did it,

and some other fun egg-decorating ideas.

I love antique hotel silver.

I collect it.

It makes me happy.

What do you collect that makes you happy?

You know it is time to spring clean…

and that your house is super dirty

when your daughter has to wear a helmet

to do her chores.

A cute, subtle reminder…don’t you think?

Love her sense of humor.

OK…you have lived through my Monday Randomness.

I’ll be back on track later. {Maybe?}

Hope your Monday is fabulous!

Today I am Thankful for:

~ antique hotel silver…and those that saved it

~ a fun daughter’s sense of humor

~ the lovely weather for the weekend

~ new growth popping out all over

~ a new week full of possibilities

~ another daughter’s beatiful command performance {violin} at the Historic Tryon Palace yesterday

Monday Thankfuls & Some Explaining…..

My alarm clock woke me up this morning with the 1943 version of

“Beautiful Dreamer”.

What a great way to start the week!

{I love the 1940’s…I think I was born too late!}

Well….we got all of the pine straw out,

and a few other things done in the yard.

It added the woo to my hoo….

I have laughed and laughed at some of the inquiries

I’ve received about ‘putting out pine straw’.

I should have explained myself….

but instead I regionalized myself! ha!

We have a large English cottage garden which must

be mulched lightly in the autumn and heavily in the spring.

Living here in the Southeast US….using wood chips

is not very wise.  It is so humid and hot here…wood chips draw every

termite from miles away!  So, we mulch our gardens with pine straw.

And a southern way of saying that is:

“Putting out pine straw” 😉


Funny….I googled that phrase and it only appears on southern

blogs and businesses.  hahahahaha!

So….we spent the weekend mulching our garden with

pine straw….which is pine needles from pine trees.

It takes about 50 bales of pine straw to cover all of

our gardens.  Whew! That’s a lot of ‘putting out’.

I hope your weekend was great….

we did manage to get in some fun bike rides

and 4-leaf clover hunts.

Handsome is the 4-leaf-clover finding king!

He found four yesterday…and one 5-leaf.

Are you getting ready to spring clean?  Head on over

to Shannon & Dean’s blog, {aka} Design, for a great

printable Spring Cleaning Checklist!

Happy Monday to you~

Today I am thankful for:

~ bike rides on beautiful days

~ nicely padded bike seats

~ 4-leaf clover

~ time in the garden

~ family working together

~ blog readers who leave fun comments

~ spring!

Sharing my thankfuls with: Multitudes on Mondays at A Holy Experience

Finding the Lovely {Week 1}

Jeanne Oliver and Kimberly Taylor are doing a

photo series during the month of February

called Finding the Lovely.

I love photography….and this series goes right with

my 2012 word of the year: INTENTIONAL!

In fact, that is one of the things I am trying to

be very intentional about this year……

finding the lovely in each situation, hour, day, week…….

I’ll post my weekly Finding the Lovely wrap up each Friday

in February……I’m a bit behind on the first one.

Here are some of the lovely things I captured on my phone

for this first week, all things I am truly thankful for:

~  a beautiful rainbow spotted outside the art building

~ fun at Ben & Jerry’s

~ a mushroom pushing through the winter pine straw

~ coke w/  a paper straw!

~ teaching a family dance class with Handsome

~ an at-home Secret Keeper Girl spa date with Sage

~ the first daffodils of the season

~ a message left for me by Handsome…in blue Jolly Rangers!

~ a lovely sunset

~ an afternoon of bedroom forts

~ a birthday cookie with extra icing..woohoo!

~ a found bluebird egg

~ my heart rock collection….given to me one-by-one over the years from Handsome

~  a daily message reminder {much-needed}

~ dinner-time fun w/ two of my favorite loons

~ an afternoon of  picnicking at our favorite spot

~ diligent practice….lovely sound

~ a heart-shapped potato! 🙂

What about you? What lovely things have filled your days?

Linking with: Finding the Lovely and A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays

Breaking Through……

When I got out of the car this weekend….

this is what I saw.

A little sign of hope…in hard ground.

Pushing UP through the winter ground, and with buds, even!

Looking forward to blooms here….how about you?

Today I am thankful for:

~ breakthroughs

~ getting the art closet cleaned out and organized

~ a warm fire to sit by and wonder

~ the hope of spring

~ Handsome & his projects

~ sawdust…the sign and smell of building something new

~ blooms waiting to open

Hope your week is off to a super start!

Go on over and see what others are thankful for…….A Holy Experience

Today….I’m Searching for a Word!

I’ve been thinking for a while about what my word for 2012 will be.

I usually have a phrase….but for this year, I need one word.

I’ll be honest….

it has been a crazy, hard few years.

Honestly…at the end of 2011 I was pondering my one word for the New Year;

and you want to know what I came up with?


Yep. That was it.

I’m by no means a negative person….

but that was the only word that came to me when I thought of another year.

That’s bad.

I’m ashamed.

I know that is NOT the word that God has for me for 2012.

So, I’m still praying…and wondering what the word for

my 2012 needs to be.

Here’s some of my list:

Abandon Ship! {that won’t work….2 words, and fits right up there w/ Ugh.}

Perseverence {that one makes me tired}

Undiluted Hope {mmm, that’s good…but 2 words…I’m too wordy}

Courage {it’s getting better}

Nestle {this one keeps coming up}

Help! {accurate..but not encouraging}

Joy {that’s good, too…but not the one}

Abide {now it’s getting better}

Celebrate {now THAT’S my kind of word!}

Deflated {oops…nope, right back there with Ugh}

Wait {Oh no! not THAT one!}

Well, I still haven’t found it. Do you have a word of this year?  Since I was around 10 I have always had a phrase for the year.  This one is hard!  If you have a word for this year….I’d love to hear about it.  As soon as I know what my word is….I’ll let you know.

Yesterday was my birthday…and I had so many wonderful wishes poured my way. I was whisked off on a fun day adventure on Saturday, and yesterday kept coming home to gifts waiting at the door.  I am truly blessed in the best kind of way. 🙂

Today I am thankful for:

~ people that truly know me

~ surprises around every corner

~ new discoveries

~ cookie cakes w/ extra icing!

~ unmerited favor

~ a fantabulous family

~ a fresh new year..full of possibilities

Happy Monday~


PS  None of my media would load today…, I have no pics for this post!  Horrors!

Sugar Plums Are Tough……

Well….I’ve been pretty absent for the past week or so….hence the lame, boring posts!

Right before Thanksgiving I had to have unexpected, major surgery. EEkkkk! During my favorite time of the year, no less!

I am recovering and see a bit of improvement each day. Last week I felt like a 90 year-old, this week I think I’m feeling more 80-ish. So, I’m coming along.

The other day I had a small meltdown. Fun plans and ideas that I had wanted to follow-through on—may or may not happen for this season. Some things have had to temporarily go on a shelf.

Yesterday was mine and Handsome’s 18th Anniversary. 🙂 How did we celebrate? Well…..after I put on my flannel sock monkey PJ’s I said: “Come on over here after I take my pain meds and prop up on pillows…and hold my hand.” 🙂 Nevertheless….it was a special day. For eighteen years we’ve weathered a lot…..and we will continue to be by each other’s side through rain, sleet, pain meds, silky lingerie, or sock monkey PJ’s. We’re here. {And he’s still handsome! ;)}

There is a basket that is kept right by the art easel in our home. It has mine and Handsome’s last pair of dance shoes in it. It is a reminder of wonderful memories, goals achieved, hard teamwork, and doing what it takes. Performing was like oxygen to us…we loved it, and miss it very much. {For those of you that may not know…we were professional ballet dancers before settling down to start our family. That is how we met.}

That basket is also a reminder of all that I learned through my professional dancing years…and the many life parallels. During my meltdown the other day {dare I say pity party?} my eyes fell onto that basket of shoes. I remember how much time was spent preparing those pointe shoes…and how important that was in order for them to serve their purpose. One way you can spot the difference between a professional ballerina and an amateur is how she prepares her shoes. Or, does she even know that you have to prepare your shoes? You can’t just take them out of the box and wear them! So many young girls damage their feet, nerves, and bones by doing this.

Let me share what goes into these shoes to get them ready for use: I had a maker in NYC that made my pointe shoes just for me. {Most professional ballerinas do. No, they don’t go down to the Capezio store and buy off the shelf. I know that’s what the ads say…..but it’s not true!} He had a mold of my feet and handmade them to fit only me. I went through a pair of these shoes a week. They cost $150+ per pair. {OK…now, when a ballet company calls for donations—YOU KNOW WHY!}

Even though these shoes were made for only me….until they were prepared, they were not ready to be used.

When they arrived I would take them out of the box, hammer the box several times with a hammer. “Break” the shank…to be more pliable…so I could feel the floor as I danced. I would rip out the inner shank liner….it was unnecessary material. Sometimes they had to be slammed in door jams to hit the toe box in the right place…to make it ready for the hard work ahead and to allow my foot muscles to do their work.

Then, ribbons were sewn….a certain way, onto just the right spot on the shoes. This spot is found by folding and fitting the shoe to the ballerina’s foot at just the correct spot. Then elastics had to be sewn on either side of the heel…for support, and to hold the back of shoe to the foot.

Then, the shoes were hung by their ribbons from a doorknob and shellac was poured into the toe each night…ready to go the next day. After dancing in these shoes anywhere from 12-16 hours a day in rehearsals, classes, and performances…..they needed to be fortified each night. After 6-7 days the shoes are retired. Dead. No longer able to be used. {Many of these dead shoes hang from our ceiling here at the cottage.} The process begins again with a new pair of shoes sent in from the maker.

Yep. I’m being prepared. That includes being hammered, shellaced, slammed, sewn, fortified, and sometimes having my insides ripped out. ugh. When my eyes fell upon this basket this week….that is what I was reminded. Even in those times that we’d rather not have be a part of our lives….those times are being used for a great purpose. Preparation. I don’t want to not be used….and in order to be used, I must be prepared. Preparation….whether it is pointe shoes or a recipe….it includes a lot of smashing, grinding, stirring, and hard work. But all for a purpose.

I’m also reminded that I need to be fortified each night/day. Plugging into God’s Word….fortifying for the day ahead and what it brings. Ballet is not for sissies. Neither is life. Sugar Plums are not prissy girls…they are tough as nails; and have done what it takes to be prepared. They are ready. They take what comes and use it. They don’t give up through hard times.

So, in this season of Sugar Plums…..remember all that they had to do to be used and appear in all that splendor. 🙂 It’s the same that we all have to do each day if we desire to be used by the One that made us. Custom-made for a specific purpose. Now, if I could just get my attitude straight through this current preparation……

Your Sugar Plum~

Today I am thankful for:

~ good surgeons

~ 18 years with Handsome

~ a family that has worked so hard to decorate for me!

~ prayers of friends

~ a nice, soft, comfy bed in which to rest and recover

~ Peppermint Mochas

~ Mistletoe

~ God’s constant providence through it all

Sharing with Multitudes on Mondays over at A Holy Experience today….

and Stuff and Nonsense

Autumn Inspiration {Day 10} ::: Persevere

This is not directly related to autumn—but as we prepare for the holidays ahead, preparing to be thankful, preparing to celebrate the birth of a Savior, and begin a year anew it is easy for life to wear us out………….I wanted to share these words of encouragement:

Life Hits Hard….the important thing is to keep getting back up!

I feel that someone out there needs this word of encouragement—and wanted to share the following quick video with you today.

I hope it encourages you.

Persevere: 2 Peter from Covenant Church on Vimeo.


Today I am Thankful for:

~ being able to get back up

~ making it through a yard sale without the water heater exploding

~ a fun day trip with my family

~ a husband that shares his heart

~ seeing my children mature in so many ways right before my very eyes

~ tea {sweet!}

~ piles cleaned out of our home!  Woohoo!  Yippeeeee! Geeee Haaawwwww!

Getting Back Up~

Sharing with:  A Holy Experience “Multitudes on Monday”